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LSA Bicentennial Theme Semester pres.

The Power of Place-Naming: C.C. Little, Eugenics, and the University of Michigan

This roundtable explores the potential renaming of the C.C. Little Building at the University of Michigan. Little was University President from 1925 to 1929. He also was an avowed eugenicist who supported policies such as compulsory sterilization of the “unfit” and immigration restriction. Little was instrumental in organizing the Third Race Betterment Conference held in Battle Creek in 1928. Forty years later, the U-M regents voted to bestow his name on the East Medical Building as part of a broader effort to recognize previous university presidents. Given Little’s associations with ideas and practices that today are anathema to our values of diversity, inclusion, and non-discrimination, should this building be renamed? Panelists will explore this question in light of recent institutional guidelines for building renaming, and approaches of other universities facing similar struggles around renaming campus sites. We will consider the social justice rationales for renaming and attendant risks of sanitizing the uglier sides of institutional histories.

Featuring Matthew Countryman (University of Michigan), Kumea Shorter-Gooden (University of Maryland), Alexandra Minna Stern (University of Michigan), Martin S. Pernick (University of Michigan, chair), and Joshua Hasler (student representative).

This LSA Bicentennial Theme Semester event is presented with support from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and the University of Michigan Bicentennial Office. Additional support provided by the Department of History and the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies.

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